Natural Products and Medicinal Chemistry

Research Group


The Natural Products and Medicinal Chemistry Research Group focuses on marine natural products, medicinal chemistry, and bioanalytical chemistry. The group aims at developing novel lead compounds and formulations that can be used as future drug treatments for bacterial infections and cancer, which are diseases that affect thousands of people worldwide. The group's research also includes the development of novel -omics technology that can be used in diagnostic and personalized medicine (PM). The group uses advanced high-resolution LC-MS (liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry) in the fields of lipidomic and metabolomic to identify unique biomarkers for the development of novel diagnostic tools for disease detection and treatmentOverall, the Natural Products and Medicinal Chemistry Research Group aims at making a significant impact on society by developing new treatments for bacterial infections and cancer, as well as advancing diagnostic and personalized medicine through the use of -omics technology.

The group's Masters, PhD, and postdoc projects involve the synthesis of novel antimicrobial and anticancer peptides and peptidomimetics inspired by molecules from the sea (marine bioprospecting), investigations of bioactive molecules by NMR spectroscopy (nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy), inventive drug formulations, and lipidomic and metabolomic studies of clinical patient samples by high-resolution LC-MS.

Research focus natural products and medicinal chemistry: 

  • Design and synthesis of peptides and peptidomimetics with antimicrobial, antibiofilm and anticancer activity, and inspired by antimicrobial peptides and marine natural products. 

  • Lead-compound identification, structure activity-relationship studies, and mode-of-action studies.  

  • The group has an automatic microwave assisted peptide synthesizer, and offers master and PhD projects in the field of amino acid, peptide and peptidomimetic synthesis together with biological studies in collaboration with external partners. 

Research focus  bioanalytical chemistry: 

  • Lipidomic and metabolomic studies, and targeted quantification of small molecules from biological samples. The main focus of the lipidomic and metabolomic studies are investigations of clinical samples, including all steps from sample preparation to the understanding of biological relevance. 

  • The research group is part of the Proteomics and Metabolomics Core Facility (PRiME) at UiT, and has access to UPLC-instruments with advanced low- and high-resolution mass spectrometers.

  • The group offers master and PhD projects in advanced analytical chemistry and in collaboration with external partners.

The research group has interdisciplinary projects within medicinal chemistry, bioanalytical chemistry, structure elucidation by NMR and MS, and drug formulation and delivery studies.

(Revised: October 23. 2023)



Ongoing PhD projects

Julie Strømberg "Structure elucidation and bioactivity screening and optimization of disulfide rich peptides"

Marita Perez Syltern "Mapping antimicrobial resistance through a mass spectrometry based multi-omics approach"

Marit Huizer "AlgScaleUp - converting industrial greenhouse gases to valuable biomass"

Torbjørn Norberg Myhre "Trombolome - Development and application of a comprehensive digital archive of the Tromsø study metabolome"

PhD theses completed last 5 years

Danijela Simonovic (2023) - Synthesis and structure-activity relationship studies of marine-derived antimicrobial peptides and small cyclic peptidomimetics

Lorenz Göschl (2022) - Discovery and detection of phase-II metabolites of exogenous steroids in anti-doping analysis.

Joseph Diab (2020) - The Metabolome and Lipidome of Ulcerative Colitis

Armin Schniers (2019) - The proteome of ulcerative colitis.

Master theses last 2 years

Stine Høgetveit Hansen (2023) - Synthetic Peptide Analogues of Turgencin A:
Optimization of Antibacterial Activity and Elucidation of Disulfide Connectivity by Sequential Alkylation and Mass Spectrometric Analysis

Magnus Andersland Antonsen (2023) - Mass Spectrometry Based Metabolomic and Lipidomic Analyses of Algal Biomass

Rasmus Pedersen (2023) - Athlete biological passport (ABP) and longitudinal Steroid Profile: New metabolites, sportspesific and other factors that can cause variations. 

Johannes Kristensen (2023) - Synthesis, bioactivity testing, and structure elucidation of antimicrobial peptide analogues derived from Synoicum Turgens

Johannes Frydenlund (2023) - Alterations in the metabolomic profile of Escherichia coli following experimental resistance evolution to ciprofloxacin

Gøril Laugsand (2023) - Using High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry to identify lipids in marine bacterial biomass

Bielul Haileab (2023) - Endringer i den metabolske profilen hos Escherichia coli ved utvikling av trimetoprimresistens

Agnethe Hansen Bæverud (2022) - Mass cultivation of the marine diatom Porosira glacialis: Method development and comparison of pigment composition in response to irradiance wavelength

Amalie Rebekka Nyborg (2022) - Isolation and characterization of secondary metabolites from Arctic, Marine Invertebrates

Kristine Haugland (2022) - Identification and semi-quantitative analysis of lipids in the diatom Porosira

Selected publications

Hemmingsen, L.M.; Giordani, B.; Paulsen, M.H.; Vanić, Ž.; Flaten, G.E.; Vitali, B.; Basnet, P.; Bayer, A.; Strøm, M.B.; Škalko-Basnet, N. Tailored anti-biofilm activity – Liposomal delivery for mimic of small antimicrobial peptide. Biomaterials Advances, 2023, 145, 213238,

Dey, H., Simonovic, D., Norberg-Schulz Hagen, I., Vasskog, T., Fredheim, E.G.A., Blencke, H.-M., Anderssen, T., Strøm, M.B., Haug, T. Synthesis and Antimicrobial Activity of Short Analogues of the Marine Antimicrobial Peptide Turgencin A: Effects of SAR Optimizations, Cys-Cys Cyclization and Lipopeptide Modifications. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2022, 23(22), 13844.

Nga Dang, Terje Vasskog, Ashwiny Pandey, Rajnish K Calay : Production of Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Fucoxanthin in Cold-Tolerant Diatom Strains World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 2022 FULLTEKST

Paulsen, M.H.; Engqvist, M.; Ausbacher, D.; Anderssen, T.; Langer, M.K.; Haug, T.; Morello, G.R.; Liikanen, L.E.;  Blencke, H-.M.; Isaksson, J.; Juskewitz, E.; Bayer, A.; Strøm, M.B. Amphipathic Barbiturates as Mimics of Antimicrobial Peptides and the Marine Natural Products Eusynstyelamides with Activity against Multi-resistant Clinical Isolates. J. Med. Chem. 2021, 64, 11395.

Karianne Giller Fleten, Jacobus Johannes Eksteen, Brynjar Mauseth, Ketil André Camilio, Terje Vasskog, Baldur Sveinbjørnsson m.fl.:Oncolytic peptides DTT-205 and DTT-304 induce complete regression and protective immune response in experimental murine colorectal cancer Scientific Reports 2021 ARKIV / DOI
Lars Dalheim, Jon Brage Svenning, Terje Vasskog, Hans Christian Eilertsen, Ragnar Ludvig Olsen : Stability of lipids during wet storage of the marine diatom Porosira glacialis under semi-preserved conditions at 4 and 20 °C Journal of Applied Phycology 2020 ARKIV / DOI
Myagmarsuren Sengee, Jacobus Johannes Eksteen, Silje Nergård, Terje Vasskog, Leiv K. Sydnes : Preparation and assessment of self-immolative linkers for therapeutic bioconjugates with amino- and hydroxyl-containing cargoes Bioconjugate chemistry 2019 DOI
Anastasia Albert, Jacobus Johannes Eksteen, Johan Isaksson, Myagmarsuren Sengee, Terkel Hansen, Terje Vasskog :

General approach to determine disulfide connectivity in cysteine-rich peptides by sequential alkylation on solid phase and mass spectrometry Analytical Chemistry 2016 DOI

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Link to all publications at Cristin.

Link to presentations at Cristin.

Resources and instrumentation

Natural Products and Medicinal Chemistry – Research Group

Contact: Associate professor Terje Vasskog - Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT The Arctic university of Norway, 9037 Tromsø
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